It’s been an expensive week at Servants Quarters. For a start, we’ve bought a lot of kit – mostly from Rose Bikes in Bocholt, Germany. Elly’s haul includes front and rear dynamo lights, a SON hub dynamo to power them, and a USB-Werk to convert the dynamo’s AC sinusoidal output to constant 5V DC to charge USB devices (her Kindle and jPhone).My stuff includes a GripGrab balaclava, a pair of ZwölfEnder overshoes and a lot of ‘banana-bread’ oat-bars. (I believe Elly paid for the oat bars. We’re both thrilled that Oatsnack.de market several vegan flavoured porridges. We’ve not been looking forward to weeks on end of plain porridge made with water, and we somehow doubt that soya milk will be in plentiful supply en route.)

My lovely lady also bought for me over the weekend a Trespass long-sleeved shirt. I’ve used my current Trespass shirts day-in, day-out. They’re warm but their open weave means they are not windproof. Today, despite the wind cutting through my jacket, I was warm even when pecking home from spinning thanks to this new shirt. My toes were toasty inside the Zwölfenders, which were not a struggle to put on, so these are a great replacement for my battered DHB overshoes. The balaclava is warm and fairly windproof too so, apart from buying a second shirt, my clothing for Norway and Finland is sorted.

This week’s penultimate expense was a cheap and cheerful bike trailer. I’m not convinced its the answer to luggage-volume questions. I’d prefer to simply take less kit, but tent, sleeping bag, stove, fuel and food are likely to fill normal rear panniers. Ah well, if nothing else, I can try cycling with a full trailer and full panniers for weight-training. Perhaps Elly wants a lift somewhere!

I’ve also just had Lev Davidovitch fully serviced. This included stripping him down to his bare frame and cleaning off all the gack that has built up during the winter, deep-cleaning his drive-train (front gears, chain and rear gears to you), cleaning out and rebuilding his bottom bracket, headset and rear hub (his front hub is a seal-unit dynamo), fitting new brake pads, replacing all his brake and gear cables, replacing his handlebar tape and fitting a new Swalbe Marathon Plus rear tyre. (He’s run on these tyres for 4 years with at most one puncture.) I’m quite surprised that Lev didn’t need a new chain and cassette, but I’m not complaining. I guess I could have done most of the servicing myself, but I don’t have the time, I don’t have the tools for removing bottom brackets, the special greases would cost a lot because I wouldn’t be buying in bulk and I don’t have the third and fourth hands necessary for quickly setting brakes.

Lev feels much easier to ride now – almost as if I’m a real cyclist. He had suffered from a lot of use, and staying outside, in very murky weather – and almost no maintenance apart from keeping his brakes functional. If he can cope with that, he’ll cope with anything the ICT throws at us, I think. My only quibble was when Lev didn’t charge jPhone straight away. It turns out that the short aftermarket USB-to-Lighting cable had died – replacing it with a proper Apple-branded version brought this system back to life.

Our final major kit expense is likely to be fitting Fidel (Elly’s bike) with his new dynamo, lights, USB-werk and flat handle-bars. His current handlebars are butterfly-shaped, so her hand-position and hence total posture is constant. (Lev has both normal and cross-top brake levers, so I can change position while still being able to brake.) I may revert Lev to toe-clip pedals, so I don’t need to take other shoes for walking, but that won’t cost anything because I still have his original pedals. Alternatively I’ll add half-clips to his current flat/SPD pedals.

I think that’s our bike expenses done. My only question is why overshoes need twelve ends.



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